by Leighton Craig
MSP’s are expected to pass Stage 3 of the Alcohol (Scotland) Bill today which will introduce key measures to address the issue of alcohol consumption in Scotland.
The Bill will prevent retailers from having drinks promotions and raise the age verification policy from 21 to 25.
However, key element’s missing from the legislation is the governments plans to allow local licensing boards to raise the age at which alcohol can be purchased from 18 to 21 along with the controversial minimum pricing for alcohol.
Opposition parties are thought to be opposed to minimum pricing as it could be illegal under European competition law.
It was stricken from the Bill in September and is not expected to be included in the final draft.
The SNP are thought to be frustrated by this as it was a key part in their proposals to tackle Scotland’s renowned alcohol troubles.
Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon, who is a key supporter of minimum pricing said:
“It’s no coincidence that, as alcohol has become more affordable, consumption has increased and, along with it, the levels of alcohol-fuelled harm and violence.
It’s got to stop. Scotland cannot afford – in either economic or human terms – to dismiss one of the most effective interventions we can put in place.
That’s why I believe that minimum pricing is a policy whose time has come. There’s strong and growing support for minimum pricing – from experts at home and abroad as well as, increasingly, the general public.
Indeed, I think it’s now universally acknowledged that pricing must be addressed.”
Another part of the Bill which will not be included is the prohibition of the sale of alcoholic drinks containing over 15o milligrams of alcohol per litre.
This section was proposed in order to prevent the sale of the much maligned Buckfast Tonic Wine which has been under much scrutiny due to it’s links with violence.
It remains to be seen the effects such a diluted version of the bill will have on Scotland’s drinking culture.